I joke all the time about my Monday night tradition of building girls up at Girl Guides and then going home and watching feminism die on The Bachelor.
Last night’s episode – specifically the one-on-one with Caelynn was not a joke. I might even go so far as to call it a cultural moment.
For those of you who don’t watch the show, Caelynn is a 23-year-old from North Carolina and is the 2018 Miss North Carolina – and Miss USA first runner up.
So far on the season, she has been involved in a feud with Hannah B., the 2018 Miss Alabama. Pretty much everyone on Twitter has been sending around this gif as a representation of the drama:
Leading up to Caelynn’s one-on-one there were lots of clips of Hannah B. looking upset and saying snarky comments about Caelynn.
Clearly, the producers cast these two to stir up some drama and the editors are here to help make it seem more dramatic.
We all wanted them to go on a two-on-one and settle this like the normal bachelor way.
So Colton and Caeylnn’s one-on-one should feed into this drama.
We have a flirty shopping montage and then obviously Caelynn needs to go back to flaunt all her designer bags in front of the girls. Another contestant, Cassie, cries because she’s so jealous. It’s all setting Caelynn up to look like she has it all. Classic ‘cool’ girl.
BUT THEN… when they get on the dinner portion of the evening, shit gets real.
We’ve heard our fair share of ‘deep’ stories. For example, last week Elyse told Colton about how her sister died after childbirth, and earlier in the episode Tayshia told Colton about her divorce.
Caelynn has been cueing up her story for a few weeks now at cocktail parties:
“It’s stuff I’ve wanted to talk to you about as the relationship progresses. It’s real life shit, it’s not just… it’s something I had intentions of bringing up to you because it’s some stuff that has affected my life. But not tonight and not right now.”
She was right not to share this story at a party – a one-on-one feels much more appropriate.
After settling in, she started talking about her story in very open terms:
“They drugged our wine,” she told Colton. “I woke up the next morning completely naked in my bed and had no memory of the night before. I had a small vision of a guy in my bed and I just had this pit in my stomach that something really bad happened last night. My girlfriend called and said three of us were all sexually assaulted.”
Caelynn continued to explain in detail what happened to her and her friends:
“The girlfriend who didn’t drink the wine called me and told me that not only did a guy come home and have sex with me, another guy — I was passed out on the couch from the drugs and he said, ‘Watch what I’m about to do’ with all his fraternity brothers around me and he lifted up my dress. They watched and laughed and took photos and shared the photos on Snapchat.”
She then told him about the aftermath of the assault. She explained how she tried to get a rape kit but was turned away by one hospital and because too much time had passed before she got to the second hospital the test was inconclusive…
“The men got away with it, except for one,” she said. “One did get expelled and the rest got away with it.”
To be a young woman talking about your sexual assaulted on ‘National Television’ is ridiculously brave – especially doing it on the Bachelor. Yes, we are in the #MeToo era, but the Bachelor hasn’t always been a friendly place for women.
Take the 2017 Bachelor in Paradise “allegations of misconduct” between Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. The details can be found here (thanks Vulture), but to sum it up – Corinne and DeMario hooked up – but allegedly got blackout drunk to the point where they were not able to consent. Specifically, questions flew around the ethics of producers.
Did they care more about ‘drama’ and ‘good tv’ or about protecting the cast in their care?
Knowing the Bachelor – I’d bet ‘drama’ and ‘good tv’. The quest for the ‘most dramatic season ever’ is constant and drunk people can help that along very nicely.
Maybe the Bach producers of yesteryear have cleared house and have moved on to other shows and we have a new batch of ‘woke’ producers. Or maybe the Bach producers are trying to score points by being into the #MeToo zeitgeist.
I’d love to think that they are good people giving Caelynn a platform to talk about an important issue. I’d like to think the Bachelor producers are ethically sound but who am I kidding. This was ‘the most dramatic’ conversation ever.
Caelynn is the first contestant to share a story of past sexual abuse on any Bachelor franchise.
It’s well known to everyone with Google that Caelynn is a sexual assault survivor. During her pageant days, she openly talked about her experiences and advocated for other survivors and changes for Title IX.
Colton didn’t have access to Google while filming so he heard about these stories for the first time on the one-on-one.
His response changed the way I think about him.
“I have had a situation in my past where I was in a relationship in which she was sexually abused,” Colton said. “For me, that was the hardest thing I ever had to watch, going through something with someone. Looking into her eyes and just knowing the pain associated with it. Who am I to feel the pain when I wasn’t the victim?”
Again – for us with Google, it’s easy to know that his past relationship is with Aly Raisman.
Raisman is a gymnast, with back-to-back Olympic team gold medals. Raisman is also a sexual assault survivor.
Having Colton talk about how that relationship impacted his ‘famous’ virginity stood out to me.
“I think that’s one thing people never understand is the intimacy that goes along with what you’ve experienced, and I’ve been on the other side of it,” Colton said. “And for me, for that to be my first love and the first person I found for me and it didn’t happen — and opening up last year about my virginity wasn’t the easiest thing to do.”
You could fault him/the show for yet again, bringing up his virginity. But in my opinion it was a true ‘shut up’ to everyone questioning his virginity:
“I think the thing I realized is that everyone who asks me why I’m not a virgin, they expect this simple answer. They want a reason. And my reason is complicated.”
So let’s move on.
And shut up Jimmy Kimmel. I saw you on Ellen doubting him. I love you 99% of the time – I think you’re funny, you’ve got great takes on the show in general. But in this case… let’s lay off. Let’s give this kid some slack.
Will we all continue to make fun of the Bachelor/Bachelorette/BIP – absolutely. Mocking and judging is 90% of why we all watch this show.
But we can all do better to respect the people on this show more than we currently do.
Access had a chat with Chris and Ashley I about all of this. It’s interesting. Check it out:
The Bachelor airs on CityTV 8pm, Mondays.
P.s. Thoughts on this:
IF CAELYNN ISNT THE BACHELORETTE I WILL QUIT THIS FRANCHISE FOREVER AND NEVER LET MY CHILD BE ON THE FIRST EPISODE OF #THEBACHELOR AGAIN UNTIL NEXT SEASON
— Evan Bass (@ebassclinics) January 29, 2019